Penn State holds off Virginia Tech 61-58
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Patrick Chambers was eager to point out that Penn State's defense played a huge role in the Nittany Lions' 61-58 ACC-Big Ten Challenge victory over Virginia Tech Wednesday night.
D.J. Newbill scored 18 points and Shep Garner added 13 for Penn State (7-1), but the Lions crafted a 47-38 edge in rebounding.
They were led by 10 from Ross Travis, eight from Jordan Dickerson and seven each from Brandon Taylor and Donovon Jack.
Penn State limited the Hokies (4-3) to 38.5 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 from 3-point range during the back-and-forth game in which a 16-2 second-half run turned momentum in Penn State's favor.
It was the fourth one-possession game Penn State has played this season.
''I was very pleased with our defensive effort,'' Chambers said.
''Ross Travis makes winning plays. He lives in the gym. He wants to be a great player and he wants to be on a winning team.''
Joey van Zegeren scored 18 points for the Hokies and Justin Bibbs added 16. But Tech hit only 4 of 14 free throws and 4 of 14 3-pointers.
The Hokies (4-3) led by as many as eight points early in the second half but Penn State's Newbill scored 13 second-half points after a 1-of-5 first-half shooting performance.
''Coach put more shooters out there on the court to spread the floor,'' Newbill said. ''The first half, I was rushing a little bit. The second half, we moved the ball around.''
Chambers acknowledged that Newbill might have been pressing early on. He was a Marquette recruit when Buzz Williams, now the Virginia Tech coach, was there.
Williams pulled Newbill's scholarship offer and he ended up at Southern Mississippi for one season before transferring to Penn State in 2011.
''I tried for 48 hours,'' Chambers said. ''I'm sure there was something there. He was fine in the second half once he slowed down.''
Williams offered Newbill only compliments.
''D.J.'s a great kid,'' he said. ''He's a really good player. He's herky-jerky with the ball and hard to guard. We couldn't guard him down the stretch.''
Bibbs' 3-point shot and a long jumper by Adam Smith pulled the Hokies within 59-56, but Garner sank a pair of free throws to put the Lions up by five with 10 seconds left.
Devin Wilson's fast break layup brought Virginia Tech to within 61-58 and Newbill missed a pair of free throws. But Tech's Ahmed Hill missed a last-second 3-point shot as the buzzer sounded.
''We missed free throws, missed a couple of layups . some bunnies that we needed,'' Virginia Tech's Williams said.
''We played from 13 minutes down to 6:52 and never drew a foul and you can't play like that.''
Penn State needed Newbill to get hot in the second half and he started with about 10 minutes left.
He sank a floater and drove the baseline for a reverse layup while the Lions held the Hokies scoreless for nearly four minutes and moved ahead 50-44.
Virginia Tech committed just one turnover during the first half but seven in the second, and van Zegeren was whistled for his fourth foul with 10:29 remaining.
Garner sparked Penn State in the first half with nine points. With just under three minutes remaining, Virginia Tech shot a one-and-one but no one went for the rebound when the shot missed. Garner scored an uncontested layup to bring Penn State within 27-26.
''He knew it was a one-and-one,'' Chambers said. ''The kid's a winner. The kid's a winner.''
Penn State: The Nittany Lions wore pink-and-black uniforms in honor of the school's original colors instead of its blue and white. . Newbill entered Wednesday's games with 175 points and 59 field goals, each good enough to lead the NCAA in those categories.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies were 45 of 99 from 3-point range entering the game but converted on just 4 of 14 against Penn State. They had shot 61 percent from the free-throw line in their six previous games but were just 4 of 14 on Wednesday. ''It's hard if you shoot 29 percent from the field and 29 percent from the free-throw line,'' Williams said. ''Typically, it's not a one-possession game.''
Penn State: Visits Marshall on Saturday.
Virginia Tech: Hosts Radford on Sunday.